Tahir Whitehead has drawn some interest from the Minnesota Vikings, but their pursuit is not believed to be serious at this time.
Here is a new name to ponder as you consider possible free agent targets for the Minnesota Vikings. How about Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead?
According to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, the Vikings have had very preliminary contact with Whitehead.
Whitehead is a very intriguing player for a number of reasons. Two years ago he was inserted at the Mike linebacker spot for Detroit and had an excellent season. But he got off to a slow start in training camp in 2015 and saw himself being demoted to the bench.
Later in the season, Whitehead made his way back to the starting lineup and again showed that he could be a productive player. However, the way the Lions handled him early in the season obviously left a bad taste in his mouth. Here’s what he said via the Lions official site:
"“It was just a matter of opportunity,” he said earlier this week as he cleaned out his locker with the rest of his teammates. “Early on, you can’t make plays when you’re not on the field.“That’s what people fail to realize. They say I wasn’t quite playing well, but it’s not the matter that I wasn’t playing well, it was the matter of I wasn’t really on the field that much.”"
Whitehead is viewed as a versatile player, but says he looks at himself as a Mike linebacker. Perhaps most importantly, Whitehead is a more-than-competent nickel linebacker who often lines up in man-to-man coverage. Over the last two years, Whitehead has recorded three interceptions and eleven passes defensed.
I know fans have fallen in love with Eric Kendricks and his talent, but the fact is he struggled last year in coverage and there’s a prevailing thought that the Vikings do not view Kendricks as an every-down linebacker. It’s possible that Kendricks would be best utilized as a Will backer who comes off the field in passing situations.
It’s all just speculation, but the Vikings’ interest in Whitehead could suggest they are looking for a true three-down linebacker who can play the Mike and stay on the field in passing situations. Whitehead has shown a lot of coverage ability in his four years in the league and appears to be solid in all other areas. He’s a young player coming off his first contract and we know how Rick Spielman loves those guys.
Just something to keep in mind.